No Shrimp Season, Elver Quota Set for 2015
Thursday, November 06, 2014 9:45 AM
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) concluded Wednesday, November 5, that New England shrimp stocks have collapsed, so there will be no commercial shrimp season for 2015 in Maine, New Hampshire or Massachusetts. According to ASMFC spokesperson Tina Berger, the next possible shrimp season will be in 2017.
"It's environmentally driven," said Berger. "The water is just too warm for them, now."
Berger said the data leaves room for optimism that the shrimp fishery could recover by 2017, though that depends on how stocks fare in the next two years.
"It could still turn around," said Berger.
Research shrimp trawls will be allowed in 2015, with a 25-metric-ton quota, said Berger.
The lucrative elver and glass eel fishery in Maine will be under quota restrictions in 2015 that are based on the amount landed by Maine elver fishermen this year - 9,688 pounds statewide.
The decision was made after ASMFC met at the end of October to determine the limits for all states. The quota is based on research showing that the American eel is depleted in U.S. waters, although elver fishermen and dealers have questioned the research methods that have led to those conclusions.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who is in charge of assessing whether the eel warrants federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, is currently assessing the data and will take up the question of listing the eel next year.
Maine is the only state with a viable elver fishery and the fish are valuable, with dealers paying over $2,500 a pound in 2012. This year, stricter protocols were put into place by the Maine Department of Marine Fisheries, including a swipe card that elver fishermen had to use when selling their catch which monitored their season catch limits.
During the spring 2014 season, dealers were paying $1,000 a pound.
Quotas for the yellow eel and silver eel fisheries, which represent more mature stages of the American eel but are less important as an economic resource, were also set by ASMFC in October.